Guild Wars: Factions Review

Many of us have been waiting for Factions with a high degree of expectation. Others have no idea what they’re getting into. Either way it’s a blast. Guild Wars is the MMORPG that has NO subscription fees. You simply buy the game and you’re on your way in a huge, living, breathing world. This is a very nice change of pace from the dozens of MMO’s out there desperate to make a fast buck by offering a few weeks worth of game play, and charging through the nose for each additional month. With Guild Wars and now Guild Wars: Factions, you get the feeling that someone is doing something differently, and as a result, correctly. Not that every MMO that charges is bad (WoW is still going strong), but my new online game of choice is Factions and I’ll tell you why.

One of the most important elements of Factions is that in it’s new world of Cantha the former Guild Wars universe of Tyria is still accessible. Not right off the bat (unless you already have a Tyria player) but you can quickly work yourself up to the point of taking a ship to Tyria. What does it all mean? TWICE the game, though there are some limitations. For instance, you can’t create a factions character and boot right into the original game, but it’s not hard to work your way into the other one or vice versa. This means if you’ve already played the previous Guild Wars, you can bring your character right into the fray, and if you haven’t then you can still experience everything at (almost) any time with any character. It’s a dizzying amount of content to have thrown at you.

So it’s big, right? A lot of MMO’s are also claiming that they have the biggest acreage. Guild Wars doesn’t particularly boast of its massive playing field, but it’s plenty big enough for just about anybody. As you level up and explore, more and more can be found in this beautiful, brave new world. Speaking of new world, the country of Cantha is gorgeous. With East Asian influences pervading every aspect of the design, there is a very unique ‘feudal Japan’ feel to be had.

On the graphics front, the world of Factions is a very pretty place, the characters are all well made and the huge variety of outfits is pleasing rather than jarring. There is very little aliasing (on a good system), and off in the draw distance you can get a great idea of the scope and beauty of Cantha as a whole. As far as online RPG’s go, this graphical system is top notch. It’s not the most mind-blowing graphics you’ll ever see, of course, but for a game that houses this many players, it’s a great accomplishment that there are very hiccups or glitches, and almost no lag.

So it’s pretty, Asian-influenced, and runs super, what’s left? Right, gameplay! When you first fire up Guild Wars, assuming you don’t have an account with the original game, you’re given the option to create one. This process is simple and brief and then you create (or load) your character. Initially you can choose between an RPG character (normal) or a PvP player who will skip most of the storyline and skip to a higher level to jump right into the combat, but we’ll get to that later. There are numerous classes available to you in the Guild Wars universe, plus two additional ones in Factions. Among the more common sorts of Rangers, Warriors, Elementalists, and so on, are the additions of Assassin and Ritualist. These two new classes are exciting, but by no means given an advantage over any other particular class, as the game is excellent at providing balance.

The Assassins are, of course, an exciting addition. Favoring dual-wielded daggers (or other double-handed weapons), these characters are fast and can do quick combos for devastating damage. Ritualists, on the other hand, offer a pleasing mix of defense and offense, coupled with the ability to summon spirits to defend and attack.

Despite may clearly excellent qualities, the game is not without its flaws. Players have to deal with a lackluster plot and an infuriatingly stupid NPC AI. The sequel is geared towards those with Guild Ward experience. There is little direction given to point you to working toward a team until you figure it out on your own. The level cap means that while you may be a great player, you’ll never be the God among Mortals that some players favor, although modding and creating items can help some. You are allowed to "Map Travel" between major landmarks instantly, but a huge amount of quests require an awful lot of legwork and endless running to and fro. And occasional graphical drop outs in the distance and (brief) load times when first entering an area can be a little irritating.

The Death Penalty is one of my least favorite parts of the game, although compared to some games it’s a God send. It’s pretty easy (especially solo or early on) to get your ass handed to you right quick. Just rushing ahead of the group a little too soon can have you swatted down by several low or mid-level enemies in seconds. Without buffing spells and plenty of backup, a great deal of challenges and quests end in a quick death. There is no permanent penalty for death, however, there is a penalty. First it’s 15 percent of your stats lost, die again, 30, die again 45, all the way to 60 percent of your stats removed. What this boils down to is the first time you die, the challenge will be more difficult, and it only gets worse from there. You can log out and come back later or rest in a town to get rid of this penalty. But when you’re dead set on doing something and happen to get killed, it can be endlessly frustrating to keep attempting the same challenge while you’re increasingly less equipped to deal with it. Killing enemies is also a way to get rid of penalty stats, but this (for obvious reasons) is more difficult than it sounds.

Despite the penalties for dying, and the occasional boring quest or tedious running. Guild Wars is an excellently planned and executed MMORPG. It has the mass appeal of NOT costing you money every month. The world is huge (twice as huge, if you buy the original game, too). Your character can dip into either world but just catching a ship to instantly teleport there. To top it all off, it’s just downright fun. The skills add an element of crazy damage and strategy to make your player so much more than he/she was to start off with. It’s great fun to explore, easy to level up, easy to team up. Before you know it, you’ll be in a guild or a faction fighting it out with all manners of beasties and warring with other guilds for control. It’s deep enough for the most hardcore players and easy enough for just about anyone to jump in and try out an MMO for the first time. Factions does it right.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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